Dear readers, there is a type of love I’m afraid I haven’t addressed much on this blog ~ love for your own self. In my American culture, self love is treated as a joke, the “treat yo’self” mantra telling us to put ourselves first in a laughable “of course” way. I feel that we are constantly told that we are to be stars, adventurers, the heroes of our own lives, that we are to go out and rock that boring world out there. Yet it remains that hardly any of us do that ~ our treating ourselves well is buying ice cream and alcohol, ignoring responsibilities, and running away to sob or rant, guilt eating away at our bad choices even as we make them to feel better. We are such a mash up of Puritan work ethic and post modern hedonism that it is impossible to feel otherwise, at least for me.
But if we are to love others as well as ourselves, treat the same as ourselves, we really should love ourselves to begin with. Be content with ourselves, so that the loves we carry for friends, family, pets and lovers is not tainted by bitterness, comparisons, or envy. My post today is about self love and its struggle against self condemnation, humility versus self loathing, arrogance and confidence.
I ran to the mirror even as I pulled the shirt over my head. I paused for a moment, then roughly pulled it off again. I looked big, fat in it. After finally settling on clothes, I ran into the bathroom to fix my jewelry and wrestle my hair into something resembling neatness. I paused again, there was another spot on my face. I put on makeup, only to wash it off. Trying harder never made me look better, and I dismissed the thought that I looked nice regardless, changing the term nice to well enough, and was late as I ran out the door.
I talk with others about schedules, and feel ashamed. I don’t have a job alongside grad school, I only volunteer every few weeks, I only have myself and a cat to care for, I hate running, I sleep at least eight hours a night. I have so little to deal with compared to everyone else, yet it busies my life so completely. I don’t even try to defend my schedule, and wear my balanced life as a badge that says pathetic and boring.
I study hard, but rarely make full marks on a test, though my writing rarely gets less than perfect grades, and I have yet to fail a class. I refer to myself as a mediocre student.
I have many friends, yet feel isolated. When I think about it, I don’t understand how I have friends. I am boring, hyper, I cater to others’ needs even as I refuse to change for them. I don’t watch the right tv shows, wear the right clothes, or make the right jokes. I think back over my interactions and cringe at who would love this girl. I don’t believe people who say they do.
I can’t accept love. Because I can’t see how any could honestly love me. Sincerity I cherish, yet I only believe it when it criticizes. Self love, is that the key to believing in love? Would learning to care for myself, see myself as a fallible but lovable person make me believe in love? Would it make me stop striving to earn and deserve love, stop me from pushing away those around me? Right now I only see the flaws, it is arrogance, vanity and pride to see anything else when I look in the mirror.
But perhaps, perhaps.
Perhaps I am human as the persons I love. Perhaps they see me as I see them, good points not smeared with flaws, but tarnished and made more precious as antique silver. Perhaps my smile isn’t foolish but warm, perhaps I do care for others, perhaps I have limits that are not pathetic but wise to acknowledge, perhaps, perhaps.
Self love is a love I’m still learning. But like all love, it has a place to fill in my heart. In all our hearts. It makes our hearts more welcoming to others as they come.